Life In Progress

I will not confuse my career with my life.

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Draw Down

This week, Sappi Fine Paper is working on the hydro dam at Little Falls on the Presumpscot River. Living along the Little Falls impoundment, we received a postcard in the mail a couple of weeks ago, notifying us of the fact that Sappi would need to draw the water down to a level sufficiently low to perform routine dam maintenance. They do this every year and it’s always rather exciting for me, because I get to explore the tree roots, rocks and sandy banks that are usually submerged in the artificially high impoundment.

Yesterday, I put on my Wellies and climbed down to the exposed bank to have a look around. The water level seemed to be about where I imagine it would if there weren’t a dam downstream. (What a pipe dream.) The natural slope of the bank and the placement of the trees tell the story about how it would look in its natural state. Currently, the banks are at constant risk of erosion from lapping water undercutting them. The big trees are giving way one by one in this unstable situation. In our 26 years here, we’ve seen three large trees fall along that bank. Two right into the water (one of which got caught up in the Little Falls Dam) and one big oak fell back onto our property, providing us with some firewood and a handy riverside trunk for sitting.

It’s stressful to witness the clouding, silting and erosion caused by the wake every time our downstream neighbors make one of their frequent trips in their fast motorboat. Today, I was astonished to hear the boat racing upstream even with the water level lowered. My heart sinks a little every time they roar past and the water slaps the riverbanks. I imagine the two blue herons I saw yesterday feel the same.

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Who’s Your Daddy?

Fixated on spiders as I seem to be this summer, they are also decidedly creeping me out. Everywhere I look I see a fluttering moth or some unfortunate beautiful turquoise damselfly struggling to escape a sticky web. Sometimes I try to save the damselflies. Yesterday, my eye got caught just in time to see a spider lunge, pounce and efficiently dispatch the pretty white moth caught up in her web. Drama on this small scale is still drama.

I keep checking the rosemary plant pot saucer, trying to catch a glimpse of the iridescent spider who lives on the front porch, but she’s got two sort of cocoons spun and recently just her shadow is visible in the smaller of them. This is the gal I can’t get out of my mind. I shiver as I imagine these cocoons sheltering dozens of tiny, shiny-eyed predators with iridescent green mandibles. Since I don’t see her much anymore, I have begun to zero in on a spider who keeps adding to a big web in the east corner of the porch. Even though the photo is not crisp, you can see filament jetting from the spinnerets in this shot. It’s a busy web with lots of debris clinging along with dangling mummified insects. I’m sure to be back to that one to watch for gruesome action.

Daddy Long Legs don’t freak me out like their shorter-legged cousins. Maybe because I once read that even though they are technically arachnids, they really aren’t the same as spiders: They don’t spin silk and they can’t bite humans. I snapped the small Daddy pictured above while it rested on top of an echinacea flower bud. The proximity of the camera lens startled him, but he posed just long enough for me to focus in on his way down the stalk.

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Garden Shark

The quartz eating machine glides amongst the Siberian Iris, which by now are long past blooming. Still, they afford essential camouflage for this crafty predator. His destination: the beautiful ceramic toad house Mom Jane sent a couple of weeks ago. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing living in the earthenware abode, but Garden Shark has a sharp nose and a taste for amphibian this evening.

I would go outside with my camera right now to snap a photo or maybe even a video of the rustling iris leaves (fragrant fodder for fellow cryptozoologists,) except I’m afraid of the bulbous she-spider who’s nightly been spinning a web between a corner of the house and the day lilies blooming across the walkway. Thankfully, Will has to traverse that path to feed the birds tomorrow morning and will blithely blaze the way.